City gets ‘extraordinary’ rate on radio financing

Staff Writer

West Point is getting an “extraordinary” interest rate on financing for the new MSWIN radio system for police, fire, public works and other city agencies.

Meanwhile, Emergency Management Director Torrey Williams has completed his certification requirements, zipping through a process in six months that often takes two years to complete.

The Board of Selectmen Tuesday night approved financing the $171,878.93 radio system through Cadence Bank for four years at an interest rate of 3.162 percent. That was at least a half point lower than bids from BankFirst, Hancock Whitney, and BancorpSouth.

The city will pay $11,489.23 a quarter starting March 15, 2019, which is when the radios are expected to be installed and operational, through Dec. 15, 2022.

Clay County is having the new radio system installed now and hopes to be fully operational early next month once portables and mobile units are in place and programmed with the Sheriff’s Department, volunteer firefighters, supervisors and their crews, trash crews, emergency management and 911 and related services.

Once the city’s system is in place, city and county emergency responders and other agencies will be able to communicate seamlessly. In addition, they will be able to communicate with other agencies on the statewide MSWIN system, regardless of where they are.

The system was developed to eliminate communication problems revealed during responses to Hurricane Katrina 13 years ago. Cities and counties across the state slowly are going to the system, joining state troopers, game wardens and other state agencies already using it.

In addition to improving coverage and communication capabilities even in remote areas, the system will reduce maintenance costs which have particularly plagued the county in recent years. Once in place, the state handles major maintenance on towers and related equipment.

In addition to the radio agreement, Selectmen applauded Williams for earning his Emergency Management and Civil Defense certifications. They were awarded last month, six months after he was named to the post.

Williams had prior emergency responder and emergency management experience working both as a volunteer fire chief in Clay County and a 911 dispatcher and EMA responder in Oktibbeha County, which helped speed up his process.

His certification will enable the city and county to continue to get $22,000 in state funding toward his salary.

Williams also reminded city leaders his office tests weather and emergency warning sirens throughout the city and county every third Saturday at noon and weather radios in schools and public buildings the first Friday of each month. He asked selectmen to make a note of the siren test days and report if they don’t hear one of the 12 sirens located inside the city.

Selectman Keith McBrayer suggested Williams work with the police and fire department.